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MBABANE - While other countries suspended the mourning period (kufukama) after the death of relatives during the COVID-19 pandemic, Eswatini still holds the belief that people should remain in a house for a number of days.

Normally, emaSwati, particularly close relatives of a deceased person, spend a few days in a house before burial. They also spend 10 days in the house with a candle lit throughout after the funeral. In an interview about this custom, Chief Gija said if there was a way to do away with the mourning period, the country would have discarded it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he stated that there was no way to discard the custom as it was part of the lives of emaSwati.


The chief, who is also Manzini Regional Administrator, said the best way was to reduce the number of people to at least five in the house during the mourning period. “We are doing everything possible to minimise the spread of the virus. It is advised that mourners should at least be five and follow all the precautionary measures during the mourning period,” the chief said. He stated that by the precautionary measures, he meant keeping social distancing, washing of hands with clean water and soap regularly, sanitising and wearing of masks at all times.
He was interviewed following an observation made by the Ministry of Health concerning the mourning period.


Speaking on the Ministry of Health programme aired on national radio, Calvin Dlamini said the ministry had observed that the virus spread during the mourning period as many people gathered in one house without adhering to the precautionary measures. Dlamini also stated that the ministry had observed that the virus spread as some people held the belief that their infected relatives should be visited regularly. He suggested that the best solution would be to appoint one person on behalf of those who believed in checking their infected relatives.
“In as much as some people are of the impression that not visiting their infected relatives is discriminatory, emaSwati are advised to take extra caution,” Dlamini said. Asked about this perception, Chief Gija encouraged emaSwati to avoid visiting their infected relatives. He advised the nation to rather use technology such as social media when communicating with their infected relatives.



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